I’ve always said that I don’t pity others. I have compassion for them. I define compassion as the capacity to put care into action. Doesn’t sound like a business concept to you? Are you sure?
While I was a court appointed guardian and conservator and/or trustee for people from 1984 – 2003 I saw it all. All of it. Hundreds of people getting what they deserved, and what they didn’t. The work can burn you out if you pity others and their circumstances. I realized early on that if I DIDN’T have compassion the work would eat me alive.
For the last 12 years I’ve worked in the field of executive coaching to help individuals and companies reach their biggest goals, their BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). Obstacles? Setbacks? Failures? Disappointments? Second-guessing? Absolutely. But moving forward with persistence overcomes all those issues and leads to astounding success. Every time. And every time we overcome one issue, another is coming our way. Count on it. Because then you’ll stop being surprised.
But SELF-pity? What is my handle on that? And what’s to be pitied in my life? It’s a wonderful life. But health issues have definitely caused me to pause and re-engineer my belief system to insure I’m giving myself what I easily give others.
Heart Disease and Cancer are now a part of my story, my life. And when it’s within you, it’s easier in many ways than when it’s a part of someone’s life whom you love. But there can be the question “why me?” which is really a pity party.
After my major heart attack on 1 May 2013 I realized my health was not nearly as robust as I believed. The widow maker heart attack. The ENTIRE left side of my heart was blocked. Survival rate is 5-10%. Not only did I survive, I have no permanent heart damage. I analyzed this and knew through my belief system that God wasn’t done with me yet, I needed to increase my focus on my own health and get back to business with a greater appreciation and awareness of the part I could play if I kept my health. I let go of pity and became active.
Then in July 2014 I faced a new challenge. One I did not see coming or predict. Oral cancer. Tumors in my mouth! (I cannot adequately express my “come again??” surprise that I uttered to the surgeon). After two major surgeries in October 2014, things looked clear but with a check-up scheduled every six weeks I wasn’t exactly optimistic that this disease had left the building.
Last week I had another biopsy, not a good thing. I still haven’t received the results but my spidey sense is tingling and I think my BFF surgeon is going to tell me we’re going for Round 3 of surgery.
Pity for myself? There are moments. I have no idea of the future and what it holds. But honestly I never did. I just know I want to live it full out and by the way, on my terms. Oh. Oh. Oh. There’s the problem.
Cancer is not MY terms. What if it destroys my voice, my face, the life I love? I can feel the emotion of self-pity rise like a tsunami wave ready to destroy everything else I believe about my life and myself. And that is the true disease for me. Pity. I can only end the party by doing for myself what I’ve asked countless others to do. These are the steps that keep me sane, joyful, focused and full of life regardless of my circumstances.
- Go within so that you do not go without. If your life or your business is not of your making, if it only comes from another’s opinion of what is best for you, you’re in deep caca when the going gets rough. You must know what you believe regardless of your circumstances so that in those moments you remember who you are and what you believed when you weren’t afraid. For me, it’s my faith in God. I believe in the unseen. God has never failed me yet. There is peace in this remembrance. And peace eats pity for lunch.
- Do not lose your voice. In my personal case, that’s a rather ironic thought but more importantly in any situation you must speak up for what you believe. You must push back and say no to another’s opinion if it doesn’t settle well within you. Life and business is VERY personal. So why not say what you believe (as inelegant as it may be at times) rather than regret a circumstance that you would have changed through your action?
- Get up every time you are knocked down. Every time. I am a fighter. And you are too. So fight the good fight. Self-pity sneaks in at the worst moments. Acknowledge it and get over it. You’re here to do something great. For yourself, your company and the world. Pity is paralyzing. A fighter only loses when they stop fighting. For me, I fight from a place of peace, not anger. I can’t sustain anger, but I can sustain peace whenever I choose to focus on it.
Remember, you’re just getting your latest challenge…there’s more ahead. That awareness doesn’t scare me, but it keeps me focused. I’m reminded of all the great leaders in the world who didn’t pause at pity. Whether they’re my personal heroes, like the women of Rwanda or well-known leaders like Zig Zigler who said, “The problem with pity parties is very few people come, and those who do don’t bring presents.”
Start your day with the awareness that your feelings about your circumstances deserve to be examined. And if you find yourself at a pity party, pack up your stuff and get out. It rains on the just and the unjust and you do have the resources within you to come through any storm.